Sometimes it’s easy to see the clout big business has over a small enterprise like yours – and overlook its many challenges.
A useful piece over in The Telegraph recently sets the record straight – highlighting beautifully some of the advantages small, agile businesses enjoy over their unwieldy counterparts.
Via 3 case studies it demonstrates clearly the kinds of ways small brands really can set themselves way apart.
Well worth a read.
‘Agility’, it starts, ‘is the ability of a business to rapidly adapt or change its practices – and an advantage that many smaller firms can maximise.’
Well, one principle may be to squeeze, as The Telegraph expresses it, ‘bigger companies on the points where they’re most inflexible, such as distribution or suppliers’.
The first company the piece highlights – clothing brand Iffley Road – did just that.
‘Fed up of wearing poor-fitting and ill-performing Lycra while running, they set out to source high performance fabrics to make fashionable, precision-fit clothes.’
They also saw a way to set their brand apart.
‘We wanted to differentiate ourselves from our competitors by having very well-made, stylish running kit made from European technical fabrics’, the piece quotes Co-Founder Claire Kent.
‘Nearly all our competitors produce their running wear in Asia, tempted by lower production prices, but we put quality first.’
They also opted for quality in terms of the nature of their relationship with customers. Selling directly meant building a relationship and profile.
They take a ‘personalised’ approach to every sale.
The second company profiled is Simplee Aloe.
‘With less sugar and more health benefits than some shop-bought drinks, the brand’s products already stood apart from unhealthier options’, says The Telegraph.
The founders decided to differentiate themselves still further.
The idea was to ‘set up a small (yet flexible) supply chain’ – so they could be speedily responsive, including with launching new products.
Plus, ‘as founder,’ says Chief Executive Alex Lai, ‘I ensure that we have personal relationships with our suppliers.’
They put energy here.
‘This is one of the key things that differentiates us from bigger brands – our relationship is long-term and suppliers see the vision that we’re trying to build.’
Speed is of the essence for case study number 3 too – window and door manufacturer Origin.
‘The average industry lead time for the delivery of bi-fold doors’, says Chief Executive Neil Ginger ‘often leaves homeowners with a substantial hole in their house for up to eight weeks.’
Not so with Origin.
‘We introduced a service called ‘Your Lead Time, Not Ours’ (YLTNO), where we deliver bespoke aluminium doors in 24 hours – it has proved invaluable to trade customers and homeowners.’
It took effort and investment of course. But the company has delivered on its promise – and this has set it apart.
It’s found its niche.
The last word goes to Derek O’Carroll, Chief Executive of Brightpearl.
‘Independent retailers have become savvier at taking advantage of technology that helps them to be more responsive to consumer demand than their larger counterparts’, he says.
‘With the right tech in place, SMEs can excel and punch far above their weight.’
There’s more detail on all 3 case studies. But maybe this will have given some little pearls to help your thinking…